VCAT’S operational response to COVID-19
April 20, 2020
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) is changing the way it operates in response to COVID-19. The adjournment of all non-critical matters has been extended by VCAT, which will now operate up to and including 15 May 2020 to a date to be fixed.
VCAT have advised that VCAT venues are now closed to the public including the registry counters. Additionally, opposed to face-to-face hearings, VCAT have advised that they are looking to hear more cases through alternate forms, such as via phone and other technologies. VCAT have also identified that additional, alternate forms of technologies are currently being trialled so that to hear a broader range of matters over the coming weeks. VCAT have indicated that these broader technologies will allow for a greater range of matters to be heard relating to Owners Corporation, Review and Regulation, Civil Claims, Planning and Environment and Building and Property lists.
VCAT have advised that directions hearings and other less complex matters will generally continue via telephone. Video technology will be utilised as required. VCAT have stated that parties will be contacted by VCAT to advise if their matter will proceed via telephone or video technology. VCAT have also advised that where possible, some matters are being progressed as ‘on the papers’. VCAT have also stated that they will continue to hear Residential Tenancy and Guardianship and other critical matters via phone. Hearings from hospital beds have been suspended and will be conducted by teleconference.
HIA has provided advice to the Victorian Government that it should support VCAT to be able to continue to progress cases in the current environment with ‘on the papers’ consideration of matters and hearing cases by video conference. As an alternative, HIA also suggested that the Victorian Government should roll out a rapid decision making alternative to VCAT to adjudicate on planning and development matters including post-approval matters that require mediation between government and private sector organisations. With regard to building matters, HIA has advocated to resolve building dispute matters currently held up in the Domestic Building Disputes Resolution Process (DBDRV) by removing the need for mandatory conciliation. This will ensure building matters can be resolved quickly.
Access further information on VCAT’s response to COVID-19.